It's late October & that can mean only one thing-it's time for UVA to transform from "shitty, I lose to an FCS school" team to "Imposing ACC Beast, intent on wrecking other's seasons"
We have in previous posts established that Al Groh will not die. He's like some strange college football version of the Undead. Every year his team shits itself out of the gate, only to rise from the depths of depravity to go 7-5 yet again. Mark this down, you can essentially forego the use of a calendar in favor of tracking UVA's football season. Whoaaaa, bad idea. Please disregard as this certainly will cause some sort of nefarious harm. Al Groh is the Chan Gailey of Virginia. Former pro head coach, .....I can't believe I just typed that. My computer hates me for forcing that sentence on it. Let's take a look at Groh's Army of Undead & see how we will attack it this Saturday. We'll handle the offensive side of things & the Architect will handle defense.
Virginia runs a classic 3-4 defense, the first we've seen this year. Groh stays true to his NFL roots & plays a very conservative version of the 3-4, preaching "read & react" over aggression. This is a big advantage for the 'Hoos as the triple option routinely takes advantage of over-aggressive defenses. They will miss starting DE Matt Conrath, out with an injury, but his replacement, Will Hill, looks to be a capable fill-in. Virginia is a very well coached defensive football team who will play us tough this Saturday. Some things to note:
- Nesbitt's eyes will be key. Running the triple option against the 3-4 is very similar to the 4-3 but the pitch key will be different. Josh has to recognize who the option read is on every play. UVA will vary their formations in an attempt to confuse Josh, walking up the outside linebackers into a 5-2 look or even bringing a safety into the box for a 4-4 formation. It will be key on Saturday for Josh to recognize what he is facing & adjust. It was tough to do this against UVA last year as Josh was so new in the offense. With his additional experience in the offense, look for Josh to steadily expose the Cavs defense.
- Ball security. We've had six fumbles & an interception in our last 2 games. Combine that with a weather forecast calling for rain on Saturday & you have a potentially disastrous situation. We've really been the only ones to stop ourselves offensively these last three games. We must value the ball. Of note: not all our fumbles on pitches are Nesbitt's fault. The A-backs must maintain a proper pitch relationship in order for us to secure the ball. Embry Peeples' fumble against VT is a perfect example of this. Peeples is out of position & that is what caused the bad pitch (CPJ & Embry both addressed this at different points this week). As former Tech coach John Heisman once said, "Gentlemen, it is better to have died a young boy than to fumble this football".
Listen to the man, he's got a trophy named after him...
- Perimeter blocking. UVA has 2 very good corners in Ras-I Dowling & Chris Cook. They also have great size at around 6'2" & 210 pounds. We've got to block these guys or our perimeter game will suffer. Our A-backs will also have to block well on their linebackers. This will be key. My guess is they will leave the corners one-on-0ne versus BayBay & Hill so watch out for the big play.
- Watch for CPJ to use many different formations. Look for "twins" (both wide receivers on one side) with us running away from the formation. This will take UVA's corners out of the equation. Watch for the receivers to line up tight to the formation, giving them a better angle & less distance to crack-back on the outside linebackers. CPJ will try to dictate defensive alignment through the use of different formations.
- The ability of our offensive line, particularly our tackles, to get to the "second level". We've got to pin the interior guys but then get onto the next wave of defenders, the linebackers. This is generally harder for offensive linemen as they are operating in space & it places a premium on athleticism.
Bedford & Co. have to get to the 2nd level
- Look for lots of speed option early. We did this last year & it worked. We need to widen the outside linebackers to open up the dive play & the best way to do this is to run wide. I expect plenty of speed option & even a few straight pitches to Dwyer. Speaking of Dwyer, I expect #21 to have a big day.
You can only hope to contain him....
More on how we'll defend the Wahoo's & our game predictions later...